Wondering Out Loud

Social Media: Presence matters most

The lead fr0m the eMarketer article says it all:

Social media marketers feel that having a presence on social sites is more important than advertising there, but there are still challenges related to keeping a community running online.

And so it is today as it was in the beginning: Social media is about showing up and showing what you know. Because, let’s face it, in today’s world no one will give your ad a second look without trusting you first. That’s especially true in the B2B space. And that is the beauty of the power of social media.

Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name the biggies, give you ample opportunity to seek, build and engage an audience in a way that positions your people – and by extension your company – as industry experts. And when you take the step of sharing your expertise in public forums the market takes note and comes to see that your people can be relied on to offer counsel without without an invoice attached.

So we all seem to understand the importance of taking part in social media, but where we, all of us, still struggle is the all-important content creation. It’s not a question of how to do it, it’s a question of how to find the time to do it. I wish I had a good answer for you other than making time – 20-30 minutes – every day, or every other day, to scan your Google alerts for ideas (where do you think this came from) and decide how you want to handle them: Is it blog-worthy, or will a simple tweet do, and then handling them.

Of all the possibilities for social media involvement Twitter is, by far, the most forgiving. It takes very little time, yet it will expose your company and it’s people to an audience you won’t find anywhere else. Add a hash tag or two into the mix and you have the potential to grow your audience even faster.

Let’s be honest, we are constantly making accommodations for our time, letting something slide because another, more important, thing pops up, or dropping activities altogether. If you believe there’s value in social media, you will find the time to work it in. And as its value to your marketing programs grows, you’ll find yourself dedicating more time to it.

Regardless of time, market expectations say you have to be involved, so it’s time to get in and make your presence known.

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October 12, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s hard to argue with Search Engine Land’s B2B Social Media tips

Every so often I run across an article that has me nodding in complete agreement, and this one from Search Engine Land had me doing exactly that. The article – while using the work “tips” – actually outlines four reasons B2B companies need to be involved in social media.

Putting aside tactics like Facebook, Twitter and blogging, SEL’s Strictly Business points to the four basic elements of why:

  1. Influence your online reputation
  2. Better position your brand
  3. Engage prospects & customers
  4. Improve customer service

If you’re not doing these things for your company, others will do it for you. And those others will include customers (happy and not so happy), competitors (looking to gain an edge), and media.

Not only does social media give us the power to monitor and comment on what others are saying, it also provides the opportunity to drive what is being said. It’s an offer that’s hard to refuse and one that can be accepted in 4 simple steps.

Isn’t it time to take the first step?

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing with the LG Revolution for social media evolution

By day I’m the director of marketing for OptiMine, a paid search bid management solution and I spent last week in Boston exhibiting at Shop.org, a trade show for online retailers. Most of our marketing efforts are executed across the Web and social media is becoming a major part of that. I say becoming because we are a young company, almost four years old, and, as the first marketing hire, I got started only three months ago.

Using a smartphone while on site is a must for anyone who is doing trade shows. There is no better way to capture the activity. For Shop.org I was fortunate to have gotten my hands on the LG Revolution with Verizon service. I say fortunate because it allowed me to accomplish everything I set out to do.

While meeting prospects and customers is the primary objective for any exhibitor, Web 2.o and smartphone technology has made it possible to go beyond, bringing the wider experience to a much bigger audience. I’m talking about more than live tweeting with a hashtag. For example, the video below was shot using the Revolution. I was standing a few feet away from the subject and, although you can hear the background noise, y0u cannot appreciate just how loud it was. That’s how good the mic on the Revolution is. In terms of use, shooting video and stills and immediately uploading to YouTube, Twitter or Facebook is as simple as selecting “Share” and deciding where you want to send it.

 

The Revolution is 4G and the speeds are amazing, but the call quality does leave a little something to be desired. While I didn’t experience any problems, I did use the phone to call several people and a few did comment it sounded like I was speaking in a cave.

If you’re looking to shoot video, or stills and upload to your favorite social networking site – for  business or pleasure – the LG Revolution is a great option.

September 18, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Google+ a consolidation of power

Like most of you, I’ve been following the Google+ talk through the thousands of blog posts that have popped up in the past several days. There is no shortage of Feature to feature comparisons with Facebook, nor is there a lack of opinion and analysis of what Google+ means for the future of Facebook. I did, however, come across a post that considers Google’s latest offering for what it means to the Google as a whole.

Alex Salkever’s column in StreetFight is written from the perspective of hyper-local, but his observations and analysis apply across the spectrum of local to global. Simply put, Salkever posits the notion that, with Google+, Google has added the third and final leg it needs to become a “one-stop-shop for multiple facets of local advertising, all sold through its automated self-service sales machine.” What’s more, the machine will be self-feeding. The other two legs are Google Offers and, of course Adwords.

Individually, each has varying degrees of market penetration, but taken in total the three have a very good chance of creating the Web-dominating force Google has long sought.

There are far too many variables in play to determine when, if ever, the consolidation Salkever envisions will come to pass. But based on the early reviews of Google+, I wouldn’t blame Mark Zuckerberg for feeling a bit nervous at the moment.

July 2, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charging into social media

This space is normally reserved for my observations about social media as it pertains to marketing, especially in the B2B space. While this post is not a complete departure, it is somewhat outside the norm.

I was recently asked to play with and review the new Droid Charge by Samsung for Verizon Wireless. Fortunately for me the offer came just before I was to leave for Seattle on a business trip. As the reason for the trip was attend SMX Advanced it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the Charge a test drive. Specifically, I wanted to find out how well the phone performs in completing standard social media tasks: shooting and uploading images and video. But I’ll start with a few general observations.

First 4G plus the 1GHz processor kick tail: the upload and download speeds are fabulous. I could tell without looking at the top display when I was in a 3G area by the noticeable change in performance.

And speaking of the display…I don’t recall seeing one that is as large or vivid as the one on this phone. Measuring 4.3″ the trademarked Super AMOLED touch screen is the best I’ve ever had the privlidege of using and am looking forward to doing so again in the, hopefully, near future.  When I was first handed the phone, I thought the size, 5.11″ by 2.66″ would make it difficult to carry and handle, but was happily surprised to find that not to be the case.

The Charge sits on the Android 2.2 platform and has more than 150,0o0 apps available for download. I didn’t look at all of them, but did enough searching through the app market to see that if you have something specific in mind, you’ll find an app to do the job.

Now, on to the job at hand: images and video.

As I said earlier, my primary goal was to learn how well the charge performs in uploading images and video to social media sites. I make my living using social media to promote OptiMine Software – Seattle was my first official assignment as the new Director of Marketing. To assist me, my first act was to download apps for the appropriate social sites; TweetDeck, Facebook and YouTube. As expected the downloads went smoothly and pinning the icons to the desktop was simple and intuitive.

The phone performed very well when shooting both still images and video. The 4″+ display made the job especially easy, particularly when panning in video mode.  When it comes to sharing the Charge is pretty slick. The left hand button at the bottom of the phone acts as the menu for everything. simply push it and it returns the commands that are specific to the screen, app, website, etc. that is active in the display.

If you want to share your image on Facebook select share, then scroll to and select Facebook and, bingo, your image is attached to your wall. The same process holds for YouTube – shoot, select, share. In the case of YouTube, however, I had trouble uploading video to my channel. The app told me the upload was taking place, and I could see that it was across the top activity bar, but I have yet to find where they ended up.

Considering how well the phone performed otherwise, I’m convinced that the problem with the video upload is user error.

Bottom line, I really like this phone. I’m not ready for an upgrade for another 18 months, but when the time comes, the Charge will be high on my list.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , | Leave a comment

Social is great, but it can’t replace personal

Social media is a great way to engage with your market – we all know that – and an untold number of companies are now taking part. But I’ve been concerned that too many of the younger folk who are growing up in the world of social networking are going to fail miserably when forced to communicate face-to-face rather than Facebook-to-Facebook.

While I still believe there is reason to be concerned, I discovered – actually it was my 12 year old son – two local establishments that employ teens and young adults that are so customer-centric, I was pleasantly shocked by the way these young kids conduct themselves. What hit me hardest, though, is I never expected it because of my own perception of the culture they are immersed in. In this case, as in most, perception is not reality.

Before I elaborate, I need to provide a little background.

My 12 year old son discovered Aggressive Inline Skating (AIL) during summer vacation. If you don’t know what it is, take a few minutes to watch the video. He’s been (ice) skating  and playing hockey for several years already, but when he found AIL he fell in love. He’s not quite to the level of the guys in this video, but he’s having a hell of a good time trying to get there.

After several months of skating at the local indoor skate park, 3rd Lair, in traditional inline skates, mom and I decided to find him a used pair built for the type of skating he’s doing. Knowing nothing about them, I did as much online research as possible and went forth to find a pair. He tried ’em and liked ’em – just like Mikey – then we decided to get an expert opinion. The guy’s at 3rd Lair were the first stop.

They not only took the time to answer all of our questions, they also answered several questions we didn’t think to ask. Just to be clear, there’s was no profit motive at work here as 3rd Lair deals in skateboards, not skates. After giving us as much advice as they could, their last bit was a recommendation that we visit a shop called Pinewski’s.

Pinewski’s deals in skis, skateboards, knee boards, and inline. We brought our used skates to the shop hoping to learn just how good a deal Dad got on them and to find out if they were any good. For the next 30 minutes, a young man named Steve gave us a tutorial on aggressive inline skating and, in the end, we found that Dad, I, did make a good purchase, but that the bearings were a bit worn. He did recommend a replacement bearing, but also said it would be better if the lad spent a few weeks on the skates before taking on the extra speed the bearings would bring him. Here the guy could have made a sale, but recommended something that would, at best, delay us from spending or, at worst, have us buy the bearings from a shop closer to home.

Both young men were doing exactly what we try to do with social media: share our expertise, without selling, knowing that we are building credibility in the market and putting our companies in a position win future sales. I don’t know if either was conscious of the tactics they were using, but I tend to doubt because other experiences tell me it is part of the culture to coach and mentor those who have an interest in skating.

Too often, what is now called social is anything but personal. It’s nice to know there are at least a couple of places where personal comes first.

It gives me confidence that we won’t completely loose the real in favor of the digital.

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social media without strategy is the black hole of communications

Black Hole: A region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape.

If  you are using social tools to communicate with your audience without the benefit of a strategy, you are the proud owner of your very own black hole. Everything you produce – blog post, tweet, podcast, Facebook update, YouTube video – every last scrap of content is being hurled into a void so dark and vast it will only be consumed by those who happen to trip over it. I’ve seen it before. A lot. It’s usually the result of misguided notion that any content is better than no content. Unfortunately, that same idea ignores the fact that no content is preferable to bad content.

Even today, the same marketing professionals who diligently plan every aspect of every campaign, taking care to make sure every detail is accounted for, don’t think twice about what is being posted to the company blog. Whether it’s a website, brochure, commercial or blog post, what you produce represents the company that provides your paycheck and treating any content as second class is doing that company a disservice.

If you’re serious about making social media part of your communications activities, make it part of your strategy development, treat the content as you do other deliverables and give social media equal standing when discussing your activities. If you do you’ll find your content living in the bright light of the Internet being consumed by people who sought it out and have a genuine interest in what your company has to say.

June 1, 2011 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Social Media: It’s easy to spell, but…

It’s the season of interns and entry-level hopefuls. Resumes are pouring in and I’m reviewing those who made the first cut. Like all good potential bosses, I’ve been surfing the web looking for LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages and blog and Twitter accounts. So far the results are less than impressive. I realize this whole social media thing is still relatively new, but, let’s face it, if you are going to put the words on your resume you had better have the digital footprint that proving you can do more than spell “Social Media.” All the pdf resumes I’ve seen to date do have a web-based counter part in a LinkedIn account, but, rather than painting a fuller picture of the applicant, the online profile is an exact copy of the document sitting in my inbox.

This leads me to ask a couple of questions:

  1. Am I expecting too much from today’s college juniors and seniors, especially those pursuing a career in social media?
  2. Should I be expecting ore from the career counselors who help students navigate the choppy employment waters?

I’d love to see your answers to both, but here are mine: No and Yes.

No: Today’s college students grew up on the web. Social networking is in their DNA and anyone who is looking to enter the job market – entry level or as in intern – needs to have, at the very least, a LinkedIn profile that is full and complete, including recommendations. If you have skeleton profile that is nothing more than a copy of your resume, you are wasting your time and the time of anyone who might be interested in learning more about you. If you are specifically interested in marketing and PR – where SM lives – the digital requirement is even more important.

Remember the good old days when the cry was: “Everyone wants someone with experience, but how can I get experience if no one will hire me.”? Web 2.o0 has given everyone – including my 15 year old son – what they need to gain as much experience as they want. Five years ago I advised a college freshman, planning to major in PR, to start a blog and write about her passion, early American authors. Doing so in 2005 would have put her well in front of her college peers and, today, she would have a robust presence to point potential employers to. Unfortunately she didn’t take my advice and is just another member of the pack looking for work.

Yes: Career counselors in colleges and universities are doing a doing students a disservice if they are not adding social media, in general and LinkeIn specifically to the list of activities their charges should be engaged in. I’ll go so far as to say they should be given LinkedIn training so they can help students make the most of the site. The paper resume – although still important – does not have the power it once did. While it has always been a snap shot of the individual, the resume loses a bit of luster when put against the dynamic nature of a LinkedIn, blog and Twitter.

Going digital is more than a recommendation, it is an imperative. Like investing for the future, the sooner you start the bigger the return you’ll realize. If you wait until your getting ready to graduate and look for that first “real” job, you’re starting too late.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A social media question worth pondering

Earlier this week I met with a representative of an ad agency in Minneapolis. His work is primarily in the world of consumer packaged goods. We were discussing the agency’s exploration of social media and  whether it made business sense for them to go that direction. Why it would even be a question was a mystery until he commented that using SM tactics seemed a natural fit in the B2B space (where I’ve been for the better part of a decade), but not so in B2C.

In the past 12 months I’ve sat on panels dedicated to discussing the value of using social tactics in B2B and the starting point has always been that B2C is the natural.

Talk about your grass-is-always-greener moments.  

Having had the opportunity to give it more thought, I can see where new-found friend is coming from. The products he markets are ones you come across everyday at your local supermarket. If he can prove that a facebook fan will drive sales of butter he has a shot at getting the customer to take a look at it.

This is not to say I don’t think SM and B2C don’t mix. On the contrary, I think it they can live together quite nicely. However, in B2B the sales cycles are much different.

Unlike consumer products, most B2B sales are more complex and carry more risk – professional and personal – for the buyer. For this, and other reasons it is critical that the buyer believes the supplier is credible and trustworthy. Social media tactics are exceptionally well suited to do just that. But social tactics alone will not accomplish the goal. In fact, they are but one piece of a much larger marketing communications puzzle that one must build.

Don’t make the mistake of throwing traditional media out the window in favor of social media. Those who have are finding they regret the move and are scrambling to reassemble a media mix that will achieve their goals.

The new media mix – traditional + social – is an area that deserves deeper exploration and I plan to do exactly that in the coming weeks.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , | 3 Comments

The social media revolution is over

The social media revolution is over and it’s time for all of us to take a collective deep breath – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Now, before you accuse me of being a complete moron for proclaiming the end of social media, let me clarify what I mean.

I believe social media – as a practice – is in its infancy. We are emerging from a time that saw the development of an amazing number of tools anyone can use to engage on what came to be known as social media. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, blogging platforms, Twitter, YouTube, UStream, Utterli, and the list goes on . Some, like the ones I’ve mentioned here, have been wildly successful. Others have slipped below the surface and  been assigned to the Web 2.0 category of Trivial Pursuit. The ones that made it, and the ones that didn’t, were part of the revolution. Their advent came at a time when we were all comfortable with the Internt. And isn’t that the way it always goes. Just when we get use to the status quo someone else gets bored with it and decides to stir the pot.

We went from needing a website to participate to needing only access to the web. You don’t even need a computer. All that’s required is a visit to your local library. The revolution that is social media made it possible for us to communicate with, potentially, the entire world. It took the concept of global communications promised by the Internet and made it not only possible, but real. Whether text, audio, or video, each of us now has the power to send our message anywhere and everywhere.

And that, my friends, is a revolution if ever there was one. People took something that existed in one form and through a lot of hard work and struggle created something new from it. The old didn’t go away, but it is not what it once was. So where does that leave us today? The same place we were on September 3, 1783 when the treaty ending the American Revolution was signed. The revolution was over, but the evolution was about to begin. And this country has been evolving ever since.

The tools are the revolution, but he evolution are the tools grow up around those tools to make them more powerful. Twitter is wonderful, but the real power of Twitter is in the hundreds of applications we leverage to make it better. Blogs are nice, but RSS feeds, Diggs and del.icio.us are just a few of the technologies that have helped blogs realize the potential of their communication power.

We have the tool to communicate to our markets in ways we never dreamed possible. Now it is up to each of us to figure out how to use those tools to accomplish the goals we’ve set. The original thinking that social media tactics should reserved for communications and not for marketing is already evolving and will continue to do so. 

What we have today is so because people were willing to push boundries of what the Internet could do (revolution) – people a hell of a lot smarter than me. But each of us is capable of taking the gifts they’ve given and evolving them to derive greater and greater benefit than even the revolutionaries might have imagined.

The revolution is dead. Long live the evolution.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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